There is no doubt that nurses are fundamental to health care. There are over 350,000 nurses currently practising in Australia. They are the largest single health profession in Australia. But more importantly, they are most often the face of care to the person needing care. And this is particularly important to remember when thinking about the care needs of an older person who may be the last stage of their life.
Many older people spend some or all of the last year of their life at home. Some will move to residential aged care or will already be in an aged care facility. Others will live with families or friends. Some may spend time in a hospital. Nearly all will be involved with a GP and with their Practice Nurses.
So not only are nurses critical in enabling good care for older Australians coming to the end of their life, they will be providing this care in many different settings.
And as our population ages and care needs change, we need to look at new ways to support nurses to provide this care.
palliAGEDnurse is an app that helps nurses to learn about and deliver clinical care to older people needing a palliative approach to their care. A palliative approach supports quality of life by planning and addressing needs as they arise. This approach focuses on three core clinical processes:
- Advance care planning to know what the person’s wishes are;
- A palliative case conference as things change to make sure everyone is “on the same page” about what is likely to happen in the coming months and how to best manage the specific care needs of the individual;
- A terminal care plan for the last days of life to make sure symptoms are managed and other issues such as distress alleviated.
Within these core processes, specific issues such as symptom management and family and patient communication can be addressed.
The palliAGEDnurse app is now available. It has been developed with input from nurses at each point of development. And we hope that nurses will use it, will share it with colleagues, and will provide us with feedback so that we can continue to improve the app.
You can download it from the iTunes and Play online app stores. And if you don’t have a smartphone (or your smartphone is a bit older and doesn’t work with some of the new standards) you can still access the content at http://apps.caresearch.com.au/palliAGEDNurse/Home.
palliAGEDnurse has been developed by CareSearch staff from Flinders University as part of the Decision Assist Program. Decision Assist is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
Dr Jennifer Tieman, CareSearch Director, Associate Professor, Discipline Palliative and